District Court Enters Permanent Injunction Prohibiting Ohio Doctor From Prescribing Opioids
A federal judge in Akron, Ohio, today approved an injunction permanently barring an Ohio doctor from prescribing opioids or practicing medicine, the Department of Justice announced today. United States District Judge Sara Lioi entered the consent decree and permanent injunction against Dr. Michael P. Tricaso.
According to a complaint filed by the United States on August 15, Tricaso, an osteopath who operated the Better Living Clinic of Akron, illegally prescribed controlled substances from April through August. The substances included Oxycodone, an opiate that normally is used to treat pain but that is highly addictive and can cause respiratory distress and death when taken in high doses. The complaint described various meetings that Tricaso had with two confidential sources to whom Tricaso illegally prescribed and sold the controlled substances. According to the complaint, Tricaso conducted transactions with the confidential sources in a hotel parking lot, where he wrote prescriptions and also directly sold the sources controlled substances. The complaint further alleged that Tricaso prescribed dangerous opioid painkillers and steroids without any legitimate medical purpose. The government asked the court in the complaint to prohibit Tricaso from dispensing, distributing, or prescribing controlled substances.
On August 17, Judge Lioi issued a temporary restraining order that temporarily barred Tricaso from issuing additional controlled substance prescriptions. Shortly thereafter, after being served with the federal lawsuit, Tricaso voluntarily surrendered to federal officials his legal authority to prescribe controlled substances under the CSA. Moreover, Tricaso permanently surrendered to Ohio officials his license to practice osteopathic medicine.
On August 22, Attorney General Sessions, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio Justin Herdman, and other Department officials announced the first ever civil injunctions under the Controlled Substances Act, against doctors Tricaso and Gerber. Pursuant to President Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand, the Justice Department’s Prescription Interdiction & Litigation (PIL) Task Force aggressively deploys and coordinates all available criminal and civil law enforcement tools to reverse the tide of opioid overdoses in the United States. The temporary restraining orders for Tricaso and Gerber resulted from the PIL Task Force’s efforts.
“The opioid crisis that we are facing today is the deadliest drug crisis in American history,” said Assistant Attorney General Joseph H. Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “For the first time, the Department of Justice is going to court to use civil injunctions to stop the spread of opioids to our communities. Today's injunction means that this doctor — who allegedly sold and prescribed dangerous opioids without a legitimate medical purpose —no longer presents a risk of harm to patients or the community. ”
“Some drug dealers work on street corners, others operate from a doctor’s office,” said U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman for the Northern District of Ohio. “Tricaso illegally prescribed painkillers and other drugs for no legitimate medical purpose. Putting so-called physicians like these out of business is one of several steps we are taking to turn the tide on the opioid and drug crisis that has caused so much death and heartbreak in our community.”
The consent decree entered by Judge Lioi, and agreed to by Tricaso and the United States, permanently bars Tricaso from dispensing, prescribing, or distributing any controlled substances. Tricaso has also agreed never to reapply for privileges under the CSA to prescribe or dispense controlled substances, and he has agreed never to apply for a license to practice osteopathic medicine anywhere in the United States.
The case is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio and the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch as part of the Justice Department’s Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force.
Additional information about the Consumer Protection Branch and its enforcement efforts may be found at http://www.justice.gov/civil/consumer-protection-branch. For more information about the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Ohio, visit its website at https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndoh.